Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Iraq: No Permanent Bases. US: OK, Just Long Term Bases

Iraqi National Security Adviser Mowaffak Al-Rubaie does not want bases. Rubaie has for the last year or so been my best guess for who the US would install in a coup, if there was to be a coup. The US first installed him as National Security Advisor shortly after the invasion and has insisted he remain in that position through the different governments including through today.

When I see him say no to permanent bases, that surprises me because the US clearly intends a long term presence and he hasn't struck me as the type to go against US wishes. I assumed the reason he has held his post is exactly because he won't go against US wishes, in other words he is the best puppet the US can find in Iraq.

Rubaie still may be a puppet, but he is not a perfect puppet. Sometimes I see glimmers of independence from Abbas, Mubarak even the Saudis. Jordan though, I can't figure out what a perfect puppet would do that Jordan has not done. I still hold the position that the US will never be in a position to install Rubaie in power deposing Maliki and the elected Shiites. I still hold the position that the US would do so in a second if it could.

Here is Rubaie saying no to permanent bases.

The people of Iraq, the parliament, the council of representatives and the government of Iraq, they all say no, big fat no, N-O for the bases in Iraq. No military bases for Iraq because we believe that is in direct encroachment to our sovereignty, and we don’t need it.

Here is the US response to that statement (about two thirds of the way through the video)

"There is no particular U.S. desire to have a permanent presence in Iraq, but we expect to have a long term strategic partnership and the terms of that will be discussed."

Tom Casey State Department Deputy Spokesman

I associate these types of childish word games with Saudi foreign policy. But the United States today has its version of the Saudi leadership. So we are to understand that the bases are not permanent, in 10 billion years when the sun burns out, there won't be bases. The bases are just part of a long term strategic partnership like the bases in South Korea that have been there for the last 50 years and that will remain for the foreseeable future.

Of course the issue is not the word "permanent" or "long term" the issue is that the Iraqis are saying they expect the US military presence in Iraq to end. (And not sometime before the sun burns out.)

I think there have been semi-serious mumblings about coup rumors two different times that I've become aware of. I've heard of them mainly through Informed Comment. Both times my take has been that we know Maliki doesn't take the coup threat seriously or he would begin talking about expelling the Americans. He would be coordinating with Sistani and popular leaders to reduce the legitimacy of US forces. Reducing their legitimacy and that of any Iraqi units that are loyal to them would make it more difficult for those forces to prop up a pro-US strongman, I assumed Rubaie or maybe Allawi. (The US calls puppets "strongmen" I chuckle at that sometimes.)

I don't think that's what this is. I think Rubaie is saying what the vast consensus of Iraqi society believes which is that they do not agree to be South Korea.

This relates back to Turkey and Kurdish independence. The US is not going to get long term bases anyway. The Iraqi people don't want them and one way or another the Iraqi people are going to get what they want. Putin said you can remove a tyrant but it is pointless to try to fight a people. That is common sense but the US has an administration without common sense.

Instead of facing reality, the US says it does not want permanent bases, only a long-term strategic partnership. That's the exact wrong thing to say, even given that it is what the US wants. That is a direct affront to Iraqi sovereignty and weakens any US allies in Iraq for no gain. Nobody serious in Iraq is stupid enough to be misdirected by the US position. Yet someone in the White House thinks it is clever.

A leadership selection process that can place familial relationships over talent can be seriously disastrous for a nation, even for the United States. US foreign policy for the last seven years can be summed up as "not permanent, just long-term." A more talented administration, such as any Democratic or Republican administration since WWII would not have made small mistake after small mistake as consistently as this one.

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